I am taking the chance to review some of the books that I have been reading during the pandemic lockdown. All of these books came as suggestions from attending Mark Smith’s “90 Day Mentoring Challenge” last year. One of the silver lining opportunities of the lockdown has been extra time to read and get ahead on business ideas. In July of 2020 I started an independent IT consulting business centered around Dynamics 365 and Power Platform; these books have been the foundation of building and directing that business.
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis
Company of One was a real inspiration for me starting as a new sole proprietor in the technology services industry. The driving viewpoint of the book is that rapid or blind growth for growth’s sake can lead to over extending of resources in a business without a focus. Many times this blind growth can lead to applying for loans and venture capital money without a strong business plan. The author sited this unfocused, rapid growth mindset as the leading cause of business failures for startups. He proposed that staying small with steady growth or even no growth can be the path to business success and happiness in the long run for many industries, including IT services. If happiness and freedom in life is the ultimate goal, then staying small can be the best business goal. Keeping business overhead down and little or no employee management responsibilities can lead to greater income and life balance for the business owner.
2. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
I read Profit First right after Company of One and it was a great transition, these two books complement each other very well. Profit First focuses on the finances of a business and as the title suggests, the whole point of a business is to provide profit to the owner. The author’s main argument is that too many businesses get caught up in expensive overhead and driving growth through spending. The result is that profit is pushed into some distant future which in many cases never happens. The point of a business is to earn profit and there is no reason why profit can’t happen before everything else, if you have proper business planning. Profit must be built into the business plan and come out first before expenses. A business has to learn to spend only after a reasonable profit is taking into account. A company that consistently has no profit is unsuccessful for the business owners
3. The Gig Economy by Diane Mulcany
The Gig Economy is all about designing a life around contract work agreements where you are most likely a freelance consultant. The book is not only about the IT services industry but this example certainly fits the model perfectly. In the self-directed work/life world of The Gig Economy, freelancers sell their talents to clients on a per project basis. After the project is over many times the freelancer moves on to another gig with a new contract. The book is about self-promotion and building a network to keep the contracts coming. The Gig Economy is also very much about defining your own work/life success, planning for time off between contracts and financing the life you want. Overall it is about being mindful of the relationship between life and work, and defining the balance for yourself.